Self-serve and speed-dial is the ultimate combo. 10 takeaways from our latest Broker-MGA research

A few weeks ago the Pancentric UX Consultancy team spent a day with Lloyds brokers. Here are 10 insights about the Broker-MGA relationship.

Self-serve and speed-dial is the ultimate combo. 10 takeaways from our latest Broker-MGA research

A few weeks ago we deep-dived into the operations of Lloyds marine brokers.

We spent time with three businesses at different stages of maturity. Brokers in start-up mode, mid-sized brokers, larger brokers with offices around the world. 

Our goal with the research was to better understand the context of how these brokers operate and how they interact with their opposite numbers on the MGA side, as well as to identify opportunities for online servicing and friction with their current experience.

Here are 10 takeaways; many won’t be a surprise to those at the coalface.

#1 Dawn to dusk dedication

Brokers in this space are permanently on call for their clients, dawn to dusk, phones in hand often late into the evening. The global nature of the marine space makes this almost inevitable. Instability in the Middle-East is adding criticality to proceedings.

Just as clients expect brokers to be on-call, brokers expect similar of their MGA. 'Always on' servicing by MGAs is highly valued by brokers - a key factor in doing business together.

Also popular are digital developments like 24/7 online quote & bind - a real game changer. The likes of Vessel Protect powered by Go-Insur have led the way here.

#2 Digital good. Speed-dial really good. 

Innovations like 24/7 online quote & bind have been embraced by brokers. A great addition to the MGA service offer, and for MGAs a sure way to scale volumes.

But it’s also a fact that brokers still love to have their trusted MGA contact on speed-dial - just in case there’s an underwriting complication or when additional support is needed. Self-serve and speed-dial seem to be the ultimate combo.

As a sidebar - the digital vs service balance is making headlines in the run up to BIBA's 2024 Annual Conference. Research indicates that brokers want insurers to talk less about AI and talk more about service. This Insurance Post article captures the mood.

#3 Under pressure to hit targets

It’s all about the target - the monthly, quarterly and annual numbers. The brokers we spoke with are either highly invested as business owners, or under continuous pressure by senior management to hit their numbers. It’s not an easy-come, easy-go profession.

#4 Email instruction is key

Instructions from clients to brokers aren’t deemed valid unless sent in an email. A phone call, WhatsApp or text is fine for a heads-up but not for an official instruction.

#5 Eleventh hour instructions

In marine kidnap & ransom, it’s not uncommon for end-clients to organise cover at the last minute. The ship may have already set sail, be en-route. Brokers have to act fast. Slick servicing by both the broker and MGA is critical in these circumstances.

#6 System surfing vs APIs

Brokers regularly jump between systems to run checks, get the information they need and to do essential jobs, especially when dealing with complex risks. Opportunities exist to extend use of APIs and data enrichment to make life even easier for brokers, reduce human error, and deliver increased efficiency through the new business process. Again, solutions like Go-Insur have made great progress here but lots more is possible. 

#7 Password management

One broker we spoke with has a corporate policy to change system passwords every 3 months. We can't be sure if this is typical for the sector. Infosec wise, the measure is sensible, but we can see it causes inefficiency and secondary infosec issues when there's no company-wide password management software in place. Aide-memoir post-its emerge on broker desks, colleagues informally share credentials (not good). Gartner offers guidance on best password management tools here.

#8 Multiple quotes give clients choice

Being able to generate multiple cover/cost scenarios for clients at a single sitting is a useful feature for brokers. Happy days if their MGA can provide this online.

#9 Quick summaries useful 

However much a broker’s under pressure, however late at night a client request, they still need to be across their brief and be alive to the important risk details. Quote & bind portals need to be simple to use and offer clear, headline cover summaries so brokers and their clients can easily check everything's in order before binding policies.

#10 Job’s not over till the paperwork is done

Specialty quote & bind portals like Go-Insur have done wonders for 24/7 new business operations but there’s still the issue of double data entry once covers are bound. Despite good progress, brokers still have to re-input a proportion of the cover details into their main back office system to create a definitive internal record and to generate a client invoice. More work has to be done on connectivity between popular systems. Homegrown backoffice solutions will suffer as the tech ecosystem grows.


How we're using the research

This Broker-MGA market research and user testing was conducted in February 2024.

Pancentric has a significant commitment to digital experience research in the insurance space including a joint venture with Altus Consulting called DigitalBar which benchmarks digital capabilities and customer experience across 100s of general insurance brands.

Detailed findings from this latest research will be used to inform development of Pancentric's Go-Insur policy administration platform.